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My husband and I are musicians. And we’re parents. Our “backstage” experiences with our son (our little frog) deeply affect who we are. Recent insights:

“Want something done? Ask a busy person.”

OK, kind of a dorky and simple notion… but industrious people who rock a number of projects (effectively) are usually productive because they have found some way to manage their work.

My own pursuit of organizing creative thoughts into action–instead of being distracted and drowned by deadlines AND future dreams, all at once–started with a glance at the classic GTD method, and then a glum look at my own workspace/life/brain. I would NEVER fit into all of those buckets!

In my search for a method that could work for me, I stumbled on NowDoThis. It’s sweet. I love the mandate. It was a good first step, a reminder to keep it simple and keep moving.

But I really did need a system for all my projects–a way to stay accountable to big and small pressing tasks, and to make room for new and ongoing creations.

All roads led me to Evernote, a comprehensive, universal catch-all. I signed up for a day. It was the equivalent of going to Babies R Us, when all you need is a package of breast milk freezer bags. I felt cold and my eyes hurt.

Finding ToDoist was like arriving in Suphanburi at the end of January: no snow, no shoes inside, plenty of Pak Bung Fai Dang, and no rush (except on the highway). This app is just complex enough to customize your projects and set deadlines in one clean, clutter-free spot.

The $29 upgrade gives you room for notes and links, and allows you to backup your info (no backing up with the free version, yikes). But because ToDoist doesn’t encourage including extraneous info, I find myself staying on task. The productivity posts on the ToDoist Blog offer gentle and well-timed encouragement and tools/motivation. The “karma button” is a cute way to make a game out getting stuff done by the end of the day. The photo above is where I do stuff–it’s less cluttered than it used to be!
Above all, ToDoist has reinforced the cornerstones of productivity for me:

  • Transform ideas, music goals and correspondence into reasonable action items. (eg. “try triplet accompaniment pattern at beginning of 2nd movement,” vs “finish string quartet cycle”)
  • Set due dates for each action
  • Adjust due dates as natural delays occur, or as priorities shift

So: Noodle… don’t Noodle. ToDoist… don’t ToDoist. Above all, the goal is to DO, and this app is helping me stay on target. I am busy, and I am getting things done. The only thing that might up my productivity would be a big plate of Pak Bung Fai Dang (Here’s a recipe for these Chinese Greens Stir-Fried with Spicy Red Chilis).

Leap, Little Frog

a musician's musings on nesting, being creative, traveling, and parenting